Iran snow cuts power to nearly 500,000 homes

Snowy road in Tochal mountains north of Tehran, Iran (3 Feb 2014) Roads have been made impassable in some areas north of Tehran

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Heavy snow in northern Iran has left around 480,000 homes without power and some towns and villages cut off.

An official in Mazandaran province, on the Caspian Sea, said the winter storms were the worst in 50 years, with two metres of snow falling in some areas since the weekend.

All schools in Mazandaran will be closed on Tuesday, state media reports.

The head of Iran's Red Crescent said around 11,000 people had been rescued after getting stuck in heavy snow.

"Some 3,800 people have also been settled in emergency shelters," Pir Hossein Kolivand was quoted as saying by the official Irna news agency.

Irna reported that 79 people had been taken to hospital as a result of the bad weather.

Snow in Tehran, Iran (3 Feb 2014) The capital, Tehran, has also had an unusual coating of snow in recent days
Iranian youths play in snow north of Tehran (3 Feb 2014) For some people, the cold weather had brought a chance to play in snow
Iranian youths play in snow north of Tehran (3 Feb 2014) Temperatures are forecast to fall to -8C in Tehran in the coming days

Troops with the Revolutionary Guard have been delivering supplies to people trapped in both Mazandaran and neighbouring Gilan province, and helping with evacuations.

In many areas of the provinces, roads have been left unusable.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has ordered all government departments to provide extra help to those affected.

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